Recent History – 2003
By Kelly Harris, Daily News Staff
Ground was broken on a $2 million expansion of the hangar at the Dawson Creek campus of Northern Lights College Thursday, promising to make the school the hub for aircraft maintenance engineer training province-wide. The expansion of the 20-year-old program is aimed at incorporating satellite schools around the province where aspiring AME students can take the entry level courses before finishing their schooling in Dawson Creek.
“Recognition that there is more demand for AME’s in this province than presently being trained prompted the premier’s office to seek proposals to increase training,” said AME department head Andy Cole. “Our department proposed a single solution using a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model, with Dawson Creek’s Northern Lights College as the hub.
“The spokes will be the community colleges in the province desiring AME training.”
The AME program is 15 months long with a two-month break during summer months. Training is for both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. Training includes aviation law, theory of flight, powerplants – turbine and piston, airframe structures and systems, hydraulics and electrical and avionics systems.
Cole said the $2 million in funding will also be used to acquire two more planes and another helicopter. Presently the facility houses four planes and four helicopters.
Cole – who started his education at NLC in 1982 and is a graduate of the program’s second-ever class – said the expansion would increase enrolment at the Dawson Creek campus by 54 students a year for a total of 185 each year in the AME program.
The current building is 2,074 sq. feet; the expansion will increase the hangar by 1,497 sq. feet for a total area of 3,571 sq. feet. The first spoke in the AME wheel has already signed on Cole said, with Okanagan University College in Vernon partnering with NLC.
A great deal of the credit given during yesterday’s ground breaking was directed towards South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom. Lekstrom was credited with lobbying the provincial government on NLC’s behalf to get the program expanded in Dawson Creek.
“We’re on the leading edge of education, advanced education in B.C.,” he said.
Lekstrom, whose father was an instructor at the college and brother is presently an instructor at the college, said the work done by NLC was typical of the northern mentality – coming up with an idea and plan to make the idea work.
Also on hand for yesterday’s ground breaking was Mayor Wayne Dahlen, college president Jim Kassen, board chair and Dennis Sabourin. The contractor is on site and the expansion is targeted to becompleted when school begins again in the fall.
Dahlen, who helped unload the present buildings panels from railway cars in 1956, noted that the college is seeing $5 million in expansions this summer including a $3 million administration building presently under construction.